Today I have left a gap in our itinerary. After two pretty-full on exploring days, today is all about relaxing. But first we creep downstairs to see what carnage has been left from last night’s party. Nothing. There is no sign of anyone, George’s is back to normality. Did we hallucinate last night’s antics? Maria (not her real name) is certainly not spilling the beans, although her brow seems a little more furrowed than usual.
It’s time to hit the beach. But where? On our way to Gozo yesterday we drove through Mellieha Bay and Mr Fletche and I decide this will be a good location as there were plenty of amenities available. We fleetingly recall that the No 49 bus goes there but we’re still sore from Wednesday’s journey to Valletta so chuck everything into the back of the Fletchemobile. We remember seeing plenty of on-road parking available on our way past yesterday morning so don’t worry too much about where to park.
We head northwards, retracing our steps from yesterday. As we come past Mellieha town itself, on our right-hand side, we suddenly join the back of a traffic queue. It’s moving, but very, very slowly. We don’t know if there is a breakdown, or roadworks, but we sailed down this road yesterday without any hold-ups. It takes 20 minutes to travel the 2km down towards Mellieha Bay and Ghadira beach. Eventually we get down to the beachfront, and it’s clear we’re going to struggle to park. All the official – and unofficial – spaces on both sides of the road are filled with cars parked bumper to bumper. We turn round once we’ve sailed past the resort – people are still parking up a good couple of kilometres away – in the hope that a space has somehow opened up, and someone has decided that 10:30am is a great time to leave the beach. We’re not in luck. We clutch at straws and head for the first sign we see that has “Bay” or “Beach” on it.
We end up heading for Anchor Bay, which we soon discover is little more than a stone jetty in an admittedly pretty looking bay with shimmering blue waters. There are no facilities though, and with no food and just a couple of bottles of water between us we decide not to stay, however enticing the water looks (especially as we’ve spent a frustrating hour in the car). It does mean I get to have a look at Popeye Village from above though, the film set turned amusement park. There are facilities aplenty here, and it shares the same crystal waters as the Anchor Bay jetty, but we don’t fancy paying the €15 admission fee just to get a hug off Olive Oyl and a go on a bouncy playground in the sea. Although now that does sound tempting. We decide to head instead for Golden Bay, near last night’s sunset spot. If this doesn’t work out, we’re going back to George’s to play with the kittens by the pool.
There’s a road closure, which means that we have to head back down – via the traffic jam – into Mellieha Bay. We then end up driving through the winding streets of the town before finding our way back to the main road. This relaxing day has so far been anything but. Our GPS suggests we’re getting close – finally – and we spot a gravel car park with plenty of spaces. That’s it. We’re finally parked. We’ve parked in an overflow car park so it’s a couple of minutes walk down to the bay but the walk means we can peruse the vendors who’ve set up on the way down and plan our lunch accordingly.
It’s been a long time coming, but there is finally sand between our toes. And it’s hot, so we jiggle about a bit while we work out the sunbed etiquette. There’s a small kiosk – with it’s own parrot! – and they relieve us of €14 for two sunbeds and an umbrella. And…relax. Book out, earphones in – but soon all entertainment is put aside due to the excitement of a group of “definitely-old-enough-to-know-better” British adults who decide to have a full on argument in front of us. And when I say “definitely-old-enough-to-know-better”, I mean “close-to-drawing-a-pension” age. We also catch a conversation going on behind us, which is our first hint of why the roads and beaches are so busy today. Turns out it is the Feast of St Peter and St Paul, and is a Maltese National Holiday. It’s like trying to get to Weston Super Mare on Bank Holiday Monday. Or the Next sale on Boxing Day. If you were sensible, you’d just stay at home watching James Bond or Harry Potter movies. It may also explain last night’s party at George’s.
I send Mr Fletche off in search of food. The queue at the beach kiosk appears to be never-decreasing so he treks off to the vendors we spotted earlier. Mr Fletche comes back 10 minutes later with a huge sandwich, crisps, a fruit salad and two cans of Cisk beer. He is a wonderful hunter-gatherer and we have a beach picnic. It’s hot, but neither of us can be bothered to deal with the wet sand scenario which results from a dip in the sea, so we remain relaxing on our sunbeds. I do finally move to go to the loo, and am flattered to be cat-called on the way. Someone shouts “I love you”. It is the parrot. I have been sexually harrassed by a tropical bird.
We deserve a chilled out day, after our whirlwind first 48 hours in Malta. In fact, we’re so chilled out that we’re even willing to give the No 49 bus another go to get down into St Paul’s Bay that evening. And in a shocking turn of events, it is on time. To the very minute. We don’t use the bus again, preferring to bask in the memory of this final, punctual journey. We take a leisurely walk down to Bugibba along the seafront, stopping to share a jug of sangria on the way. I have a hankering for seafood, so we decide to eat at L’Ostricaio. I have a well-documented history of ordering seafood platters which are far too much food (Cioppinos in San Francisco, Il Gabbiano in Cinque Terre…) so instead we opt to share a selection of antipasti instead. Calamari, sweet & sour tuna on bruschetta, swordfish ratatouille and octopus salad left us satisfied without feeling stuffed.
This is a place that prides itself in its oysters though. I’ve never had an oyster. So I ordered one. Yes, a single solitary oyster. Our waiter tries to tell me that I’d be better off having a selection of six or even twelve. But what if I don’t like it? That would be a waste of five or eleven oysters – Mr Fletche has already turned his nose up at the idea. My single oyster never turns up. I remain an oyster virgin.
We walk along the bustling seafront, past the hair-braiders, henna tattooists and caricaturists so common in these resorts. We drop by Miracles for a cocktail. The DJ is playing the same early 00s R&B tunes that I danced to back in the day in Malia and Magaluf.
After our eCabs experience the other night, I’m interested to compare the public taxi service in the name of “research”. This is what being a blogger has turned me into. I compared the two companies over on Getting around Malta: Car v Bus but the upshot was that neither taxi company knew where George’s was (despite it being party central last night), but eCabs was a little cheaper.
Tonight we’re prepared for party at George’s. We’d seen food, drink and balloons being carried in earlier, so we correctly concluded that George’s would once more be the place to be. We’d caught up with George earlier to find out whether he’d cook for us on Saturday night – as random as this seems all of the previous guesthouse reviews had suggested we get George to prepare us dinner as aside from letting out his house to complete strangers, he’s also one helluva chef. As long as you’re not vegetarian, and have a healthy appetite. So when we arrive back at the guesthouse, George now treats us like his new best friends. It turns out that the party is a 60th wedding anniversary, and we’re immediately shepherded towards the bar (the bar that we didn’t know we had til last night) for a drink “on the house”. George also makes sure that we’re offered a piece of anniversary cake when it’s been handed round.
We are warming to George’s.
Tomorrow: We’re off to the southern area of Malta to explore Marksaxlokk, Blue Grotto and St Peter’s Pool!